PS 10
Red SUP Kilmuir Bay 1200×350
PS 7
Red SUP Paddling up Loch Affric 2 1200×350
Red SUP paddling on Loch Maree 1 1200×350
Red SUP VW at Portknockie Harbour 1200×350
Red SUP Scourie Rock Hopping 1200×350
Red SUP Paddling up Loch Affric 1 1200×350
Red SUP paddling on Loch Maree 3 1200×350
Red SUP Boards floating on Loch Duntelchaig 1200×350

Highland SUP Skills Weekend

  • 30/10/2021 - 31/10/2021
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Explore Highland is looking forward to hosting the upcoming Highland SUP Skills Weekend on 30th & 31st October!

With the recent explosion of people taking up paddleboarding, there’s been some water safety concerns throughout the industry due to various incidents that have happened locally and nationally of late. The aim of this Highland SUP Skills Weekend is by pulling some local coaches & paddlers together, and offer a fun range of developmental workshops in a safe environment will allow the attendees to be far more competent when heading out on the water in future.

As much as we’d love to make this weekend much bigger, with the current social distancing issues and issues arising from the running of large social events, it makes sense to keep this first Highland SUP Skills weekend small and limited to only twenty four attendees.

A reserve list will be taken in case anyway has to pull out attending the event.

Tania Mackie

Tania Mackie is a UKCC Level 2 Canoe and Kayak Coach, a 4 star Sea Kayak Leader and runs Tall Tree Yoga. Exploring the wonderfully varied coastline of Scotland is a joy and Tania enjoys both paddling and coaching with friends, family and folk who just want to go on adventures. Tania coaches at the Scottish Women’s Paddle Symposium and specialises in combining yoga with paddleboarding and sea kayaking. As a Hatha, Yin and Vinyasa Yoga Teacher, SUP Yoga brings together balance, board, agility and fun, whilst improving flexibility and strength. Falling in is optional!

Emy McLeod 

Emy has been paddling for over ten years now sharing her love of being on the water in both SUP and canoe. She currently sits on the SCA stand up paddle board committee & is part of the team organising the Scottish Women’s Paddle Symposium. Emy loves nothing more than introducing individuals to paddling whether it is open water, coastal or moving water and seeing peoples’ confidence built & skills develop.

Jim Gibson 

Jim has been paddling for over 30 years and been paddleboarding since 2009. He was one of the first to offer paddle boarding instruction in Scotland. No matter what environment Jim’s coaching in, sea, surf, lochs or white water, you can tell he loves paddling.

Donald  Macpherson

Donald has been sports coaching for near thirty years and into paddlesports for the last twenty. Qualified in coaching various sports including four paddlesports disciplines of open canoe, sea kayak, whitewater kayak and paddle boarding, he brings lots of experience and transferable skills to the table. He has run Explore Highland based out of Inverness for the last twelve years.

Angus Mackie

I’m Angus Mackie, a professional photographer and photography tutor, based just north of Inverness on the beautiful Black Isle. As a landscape and panoramic photographer who specialises in 360° photography, I enjoy exploring Scotland and its wild and remote places and have discovered some of the best photography locations in the Highlands over the last 35 years of living up here. With a broad and wide ranging knowledge of the Highlands, I still enjoy finding new locations and fresh perspectives for my photography. The use of natural light to capture stunning scenery at spectacular locations is very much a key factor for my photography. As a fully qualified and insured CAA Approved UAS (Drone) Pilot with full CAA Permission for Commercial Operations, I have approval from the CAA for a wide range of commercial aerial photography applications for both day and night time flying. I’m a qualified Summer Mountain Leader, a Sea Kayak Leader and a UKCC Level 2 Sea Kayaking coach, with many years experience of leading and guiding. I was also a longstanding member of Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team for 20 years.

Event Assistants/Volunteers

Throughout the weekend, there will also be five volunteers (Mairi Nicolson, Claire Scott, Vikki Mcpherson, Kirsty Mortimer & Diana Macdonald) helping the coaches ensure the event runs smoothly.

One volunteer be appointed to each group of six paddlers and accompany them around the four workshops, assisting the coaches and paddlers alike as well as ensure cover at the  registration desk.

Session 1 – SUP YOGA with Tania Mackie

Being at one with your board in nature is key in SUP Yoga. Tania will not only stretch your mind, but your body also as she introduces you to some simple exercises on the water. This workshop will take place in a very sheltered area close to the edge of the loch to allow you to rem0ve your buoyancy aid during the session, for those that wish to be more comfortable during the session.

Session 2 – STANDING & MOVING CONFIDENCE with Emy McLeod

Every new paddleboarders fear is falling off. Actually this should be embraced as it not only teaches you your boards capabilities, and balance points, it develops your self rescue skills when having to climbing back on board. Moving around the board is not rocket science, but with some practise and top tips, a SUP guru you will be!

Session 3 – FORWARD PADDLING SKILLS with Donald Macpherson

To get the most out of your paddleboard, you need to be able to forward paddle efficiently or you’ll never reach those scenic locations. During this workshop you’ll be introduced to a variety of skills, techniques and maybe even some paddle wizardry to allow your board to glide straight and true.

Session 4 – SUP KIT, SAFETY & RESCUE SKILLS with Jim Gibson

This workshop will cover a wide range of safety and rescue skills. From the kit currently out on the market, setting up/checking your board, as well as various ways to self rescue should you fall in. To ensure social distancing is maintained, peer rescue techniques will be covered at the end of the workshop verbally rather than practices together.

Throughout Saturday Angus Mackie our event photographer will be on hand moving around the workshops, capturing some of the action,  with the photos available free of charge to participants shortly after the event.

Session 1 – PLANNING YOUR PADDLE with Tania Mackie

Where and when to paddle is always a tricky question. Tania will share some of her wisdom in planning a paddles, including some useful online resources, guidebooks, maps, and charts work. This session will be land based so do take your flask and notebook handy.

Session 2 – JOURNEYING SKILLS & TIPS with Emy McLeod

Safety in numbers is always good, or is it? Whilst leading you out on a short guided paddle, Emy will offer an insight into group safety practices including safety equipment, group awareness, and paddling fitness/ability. All these aspects should be considered when planning to head out with friends, family and peers.

Session 3 – THE MONEY SHOT with Angus Mackie

We all love to capture that stunning shot to pop on facebook, instagram and make your friends jealous. Angus with many years of photographic & paddling expertise will share some of his top tips in catching that elusive money shot. Don’t fear though, this workshop will be land based so no chance of falling off your board with your own phone or camera in hand.

Session 4 – SUP RIVER SKILLS with Jim Gibson & Donald Macpherson

Paddleboard onto moving water can be nerve wracking. During this workshop the group of six paddlers will be split into two smaller groups lead by Jim & Donald to allow more time and support to offer coaching and feedback. Basic river paddling confidence and skills that will be covered including breaking in/out of the flow, ferry gliding, reading the river, as well as self rescue skills on moving water should they be needed.  Helmets, leash waist belts, river buoyancy aids and short river fins are all available to borrow from you Instructor for this workshop, should you not have your own.

What’s included:

  • 4x 90 minute skills workshops each day delivered by locally recognised coaches
  • Specialist kit including helmets, river fins, river buoyancy aids, and leash waist belts for the SUP river skills workshop
  • Time during and between workshops to meet other like minded paddleboarders
  • Copies off all photos taken on Saturday’s workshops and from the Money Shot workshop on Sunday
  • Access to some paddle kit bargains on Saturday

What you need to bring: 

Essential Items:

  • paddleboard, leash and paddle (board hire packages are available at £25 per day)
  • suitable buoyancy aid
  • helmet for river paddling workshop (can be issued free of charge if required from river sup coach)
  • suitable paddling clothing for the day and workshops. Some sessions may include capsizing so a few options may be required if not using a dry suit
  • a hat/cap to keep your head warm
  • suitable footwear for launching/landing/paddling/walking on land
  • a pack lunch, snacks, water bottle and flask for the various breaks between workshops
  • towel & complete change of clothes for afterward
  • suntan lotion and midgy spray  may also be required
  • Mobile phone or camera for the photography workshop
  • Flask and cuppa for land based workshops

Group Size: Maximum of six paddlers per workshop x four workshops (24x attendees)

Age: Suitable for adults only.

Prerequisite: This weekend is aimed at those who have paddleboarded before. You don’t have to be an expert or able to stand up for all of these sessions. Just having been out on the water a few times before, tried some basics with a willingness to learn new skills while having fun in the process is all.

Saturday workshops will improve your paddle boarding skills and knowledge with the intension of every second workshop potentially landing you in the water.

Progression will continue throughout Sunday’s workshops with group and river skills. The sessions on Sunday have been set up deliberately to rotate between land and on water workshops to ensure you are not completely paddled out by Sunday afternoon.

Workshop Booking:

Bookings open on Monday 20th September at 8pm. Priority will be given to those wishing to attend the full weekend. There are twenty four places available on both days. Bookings for a single day only will not be available online until 8pm on Monday 4th October 2021.

Workshop Costs:

Full Weekend attendance (8x workshops) – £110

Single Day attendance (4x workshops) – £65

Board Hire Packages:

If you would like to attend but don’t own your own paddleboard, there will be a number of boards available to hire.

The board package will include an inflatable paddleboard, leash, paddle and bouyancy aid if required.

Board package hire – £25 per day (normally £35)

Wetsuits hire – £5 per day

You can book your board hire online. Board options include Freshwater Bay 10’6 All-rounder boards or 11’5 Touring boards. More details on these can be found online.

Personal Belongings: Cameras, phones, car keys, and other personal belongings are taken out onto the water at your own risk. If in doubt, please leave these items in your car when out on the water. A key drop off facility will be available at the registration table.

Meet Location Saturday: Glen Affric – Exact Location to be confirmed

Meet Location Sunday: Caledonian Canal – Exact Location to be confirmed

COVID-19 Activity Advice: A number of precautions are being put in place to ensure safety for all attending.

  • All participants are attending on the basis they are NOT suffering from any COVID-19 symptoms, have NOT knowingly been in contact with anyone suffering from COVID-19 symptoms within the last 14 days, and are fit, healthy, and happy to participate.
  • Should any booked participant discover they have developed any COVID-19 symptoms, participants are asked to contact Explore Highland by email at the earliest opportunity.
  • We ask all participants to respect social distancing to assist in everyone’s safety.
  • Social distancing will be maintained throughout the activity whether on land or when out on the water.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitisers will be available for regular application at the start, during breaks, and at the end of the session.
  • Group photos will be taken maintaining social distancing and “group hug photos” encouraged only for the same household paddlers.
  • Should the Scottish/UK government change travel restrictions after deposits/balance has been paid, Explore Highland will honour your booking and offer an alternative date/event to attend once restrictions have been lifted.
  • Should there be any more best practice advice issued, we will ensure to add to this list to further promote safe paddling for all.
  • All participants are advised to register with the NHS Scotland  Test & Protect App


Terms & Conditions: Terms and conditions can be found online at –

Details Price Qty
Full Weekend (30th & 31st October 2021)show details + £110.00 (GBP)  
Saturday Only (30th October 2021)show details + £65.00 (GBP)   Goes On Sale
Sunday Only (31st October 2021)show details + £65.00 (GBP)   Goes On Sale
10'6 SUP Hire Saturday (30th October 2021)show details + £25.00 (GBP)  
10'6 SUP Hire Sunday (31st October 2021)show details + £25.00 (GBP)  
11'5 SUP Hire Saturday (30th October 2021)show details + £25.00 (GBP)  
11'5 SUP Hire Sunday (31st October 2021)show details + £25.00 (GBP)